Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Caring for a butcher block countertop

Butcher block can be an attractive and economical option for those who dislike the look of laminate and are on a budget. In the process of renovating the kitchen in our starter home, we knew this was not an investment kitchen for us and that we would probably not see the return from a stone countertop upon selling the house. Still we wanted a clean, safe and attractive kitchen, and Ikea could provide all of that and fast! I could not stomach most of the speckley laminate choices and actually liked the look (and the price!) of the Ikea butcher block:
The process of installing this countertop couldn't be easier; most of the laminates and stones required the extra wait time, and since this was a live-in renovation, we needed a kitchen, fast! I admit I had concerns with stains, I feared a countertop covered in spaghetti sauce and coffee. My husband and I have bad coffee habits (leaving the spoon on the counter, I know I know), and for a while we considered staining the countertop (yes, to match the potential coffee stains!), but upon installing it we both loved the natural colour so much.
Ikea recommends using a wood oil periodically to treat the countertop, but we couldn't see it standing up to traffic. I agreed that a varnish was necessary, but felt uneasy about prepping food, the wait time for drying, and the fumes. That's when I came across this product:
I liked that they claimed to be a green product and the water based finish boasted a short drying time with no smell. After three coats on the butcher block, this proved true, I also liked the way that it retained a natural look even with the coating. 
So how have my butcher blocks held up after 6 months of coffee drinking and all that messiness?!? As far as my main concern, food stains, not one. Coffee wipes clean even days later, jam, spaghetti sauce, even food dye the day after my daughter's birthday party. Some people have concerns with hygiene and butcher blocks, I treat mine like a regular counter and use a cutting board, so knife marks have not been a problem. Two things have been an issue (although not huge), so a word of caution; any corrosive type product should not be left on the countertop. I once left some Tide detergent next to the sink and the blue dye ate its way into the wood grain, my husband notices it but I do not, also, cookies + wax paper directly on to the countertop, bad idea! The heat will melt the shape of the cookie right on to the butcher block.
Cookie stains on butcher block
Another view of cookie stains
I am still really happy about them, especially since water and food stains have not been an issue. We may re-sand, nourish with oil and re-varnish in the summer to get the cookie marks out, but I do not feel it warrants a harsh, smelly product as we have learned our lesson! I would recommend the countertops to anyone with these bits of advice: use a varnish to seal out food stains and ABSOLUTELY no heat!!!


  1. Wow! i could have written this post! Except for the fact that i bought the Behandla wood oil at Ikea when i bought my countertop. The instructions with the countertop say to oil every other day for a week, every third day for two months or until the wood is saturated... i absolutely LOVE my new countertops! hope you do too!

  2. What a wonderful post. I have learnt so much from this blog.I like your blog.Thanks for the post.

  3. Our counter tops are perfect and the matching sill for the shower compliments the room nicely (in the master bath). I would have rated a 10 (no half ratings or I would have put 9 ½) excellent for one minor incident which was rectified to our full satisfaction. Granite Countertops Lynnwood